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Re-Evaluating Nebraska's 2011 Football Recruiting Class

Erin SorensenContributor IJune 16, 2014

Re-Evaluating Nebraska's 2011 Football Recruiting Class

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    The 2011 Nebraska recruiting class was ranked No. 17 in the nation, per 247Sports.com. It was arguably one of head coach Bo Pelini's best classes to date.

    The class boasted 20 total players, with 18 being freshman and two transferring from junior colleges. It was also the class that was well-discussed, as potential quarterback Bubba Starling was part of it.

    Looking back on the class, not all players panned out as expected. On the other hand, there were some that ended up being worth much more than their star rating suggested.

    But that's the tricky thing about recruiting. It's never clear what a star rating is worth until some time has passed. For the 2011 class, enough time has gone by to really look at what each position provided for the Huskers.

    Read on to see how the 2011 Nebraska class ranks now.

Quarterback

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Nebraska signed two quarterbacks in the 2011 class: Bubba Starling and Jamal Turner. By the time August rolled around, only one was left on the roster. As Starling bolted for Major League Baseball, Turner was left as the only quarterback in the class.

    In his time with the Huskers, Turner hasn't played much under center. He's been listed as a wide receiver most of his career, in fact.

    He made a return to center during Nebraska's most recent spring game, but it doesn't mean he'll be seen in the position come fall. That also doesn't mean he won't be either.

    Nebraska could finally be using the former high school quarterback in the Wildcat formation, similar to how Northwestern used Kain Colter. That all has yet to be decided.

    As a wide receiver, Turner has been average. Fans have always been curious about his capabilities at quarterback. There is a possibility the chance to see him under center will come to light in 2014.

    That's what makes this position so hard to rank for this class. While Turner may have ranked higher at wide receiver, he was signed at quarterback, a position that just never fully panned out for him.

     

    Grade: C-

Running Backs

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Huskers signed two running backs for their 2011 class. Those players were Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green.

    Per 247Sports.com, Green was a higher-rated player than Abdullah coming out of high school. Green boasted a 4-star to Abdullah's 3-star. In the end, those ratings meant little.

    At the end of his sophomore season, Green decided to transfer, per ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg. He ultimately landed at TCU. While it was unfortunate to lose Green, the Huskers ended up keeping the best running back in the class.

    Abdullah has put up some outstanding numbers in his time with Nebraska. In 2012, he had a total of 1,137 rushing yards. In 2013, he had 1,690.

    By the end of his junior year, Abdullah had the opportunity to declare for the NFL draft. He decided to stay put at Nebraska for his senior season, which was exciting for fans.

    Much like Rex Burkhead who came before him, Abdullah truly is a workhorse. His talent and hard work with Nebraska have far surpassed expectations of him. He truly was worth more than the 3-star rating he was given.

     

    Grade: A+

Wide Receivers

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Believe it or not, the most well-known wide receiver from the 2011 class wasn't even recruited as one. That was Jamal Turner. As for the player who was recruited and signed as a wide receiver, that was Taariq Allen.

    While his name may not be as popular as fellow wide receiver Kenny Bell's, Allen has made a fairly big impact for the Huskers. He played eight games his redshirt freshman season before suffering a knee injury. However, he made a quick recovery, allowing him to play in 10 games in 2013.

    Allen is expected to be a big part of Nebraska's passing game in 2014, and he's only shown growth over his time with the Huskers. He is also a two-time Academic All-American.

     

    Grade: B+

Tight Ends

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    When David Sutton was recruited to Nebraska, the tight end position had some good leaders ahead of him. As a result, Sutton redshirted his first season, allowing him to work out with the Nebraska scout team.

    From there, he provided a little support to the Husker tight ends in 2012 and played against Southern Miss, Arkansas State and Idaho State.

    Since then, he's continued to see some playing time, but it's been pretty limited to blocking. He'll be looking to gain playing time alongside sophomores Sam Cotton and Cethan Carter. As a junior, he'll be able to provide some leadership come fall.

    There have been a lot of factors working against Sutton in regards to more playing time, so 2014 could be a better year for him and his position group. It'll be really clear how he ranks after a couple of games next season.

     

    Grade: B-

Offensive Line

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Nebraska recruited quite a few offensive linemen in the 2011 class. Tyler Moore, Givens Mordi Price, Ryne Reeves and Zach Sterup all signed with the Huskers.

    To start, Moore played in a total of nine games his freshman year. He started in four of those. However, by the time his sophomore year rolled around, Moore transferred to Florida, per ESPN.

    As for Price, he provided depth through his sophomore season but really had the opportunity to step up at the end of 2013. When most of Nebraska's offensive line went down with injuries, Price's role expanded, giving him valuable experience for the Huskers in 2014.

    Reeves has also grown in his time with Nebraska. He broke his ankle during 2013's spring practice, but he was able to make a full recovery by fall. For 2014, his experience will either have him starting under center or at guard.

    Sterup, like Price and Reeves, has paid his dues since he was recruited and is looking for an expanded role in 2014. He was also in the same boat where injuries towards the end of 2013 allowed him to gain valuable experience.

    Overall, Nebraska's 2011 class provided a good group of players that were capable of stepping up when injuries plagued the offensive line last season. The group now has a lot to prove as leaders going forward, but they've shown a lot of promise.

     

    Grade: B+

Defensive Line

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    USA TODAY Sports

    For the 2011 class, the Huskers signed three players to the defensive line. That included defensive end Joseph Carter and defensive tackles Todd Peat Jr. and Kevin Williams.

    Alongside Daimion Stafford (they were teammates prior to Nebraska), Carter was a junior college recruit. He played for Nebraska in 2011 and 2012. Per Huskers.com, "Carter had a season-high four tackles against Minnesota, and three solo tackles at UCLA. He had two tackles each against Southern Miss and Northwestern, then closed his career with three tackles against Georgia in the Capital One Bowl."

    Those numbers show that Carter was a valuable asset to the defensive line in his short time with the Huskers. He may not have been eligible for long, but in his time, he made an impact.

    As for Peat Jr., he transferred from Nebraska at the end of 2012, per Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star. His loss had no real impact on the team.

    Williams is the only 2011 defensive line recruit still with the Huskers. He showed a small glimpse of what he's capable of during his redshirt freshman season, but a knee injury during fall camp in 2013 kept him out the whole season.

     

    Grade: B

Linebackers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Nebraska snagged two linebackers in the 2011 class: Max Pirman and David Santos.

    While recruited as a linebacker, Pirman eventually moved to the tight end position. He never played as a linebacker, which ultimately pushed him to make a switch. As of the end of this past May, Pirman is no longer with the team. Huskers Illustrated confirmed his departure.

    David Santos, on the other hand, has been a star for Nebraska. His bio on Huskers.com is nothing short of impressive. From seven solo tackles against Minnesota, six solo against Wyoming and plenty more, Santos proved he has what it takes to lead this position.

    Pirman may not have worked out for the Huskers, but Santos did. And he's been a vital asset to the team.

     

    Grade: B+

Defensive Backs

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    At defensive back, Nebraska recruited and signed Daniel Davie, Charles Jackson and Daimion Stafford to the 2011 class.

    Interestingly enough, Davie originally wanted to play wide receiver for Nebraska, per the Omaha World-Herald. In the end, he was listed as a cornerback and has made an impact on special teams. As Husker Online noted, Davie tore his ACL last season, but the coaches still have high hopes for him going forward.

    Jackson made a name for himself right off the bat for the Huskers. As a true freshman, he played in all 13 games and made 11 tackles, including six solo stops, per Huskers.com. However, his focus and playing time has been mostly on special teams. Fans are anxious to see what Jackson is capable of at defensive back in 2014.

    Stafford was a junior college recruit for Nebraska and graduated at the end of the 2012 season. He was definitely the star of the defensive backs recruited in the 2011 class. He was named first-team All-Big Ten by the media, Big Ten Network, ESPN and Phil Steele in 2012, per Huskers.com.

    In his short time with Nebraska, Stafford made a sizable impact. He makes what could have been a very average grade for this position much higher.

     

    Grade: B

Special Teams

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Mauro Bondi was the only player to sign with Nebraska for special teams in 2011. He got immediate play in 2011 as a freshman, too. He appeared in four games that year.

    Bondi went on to redshirt the next season in 2012, as Brett Maher took the reins for the Huskers. By 2013, he was the Huskers' kickoff specialist.

    However, it hasn't been perfect for Bondi in his time at Nebraska. Known as 'Kicker U,' there's a lot to live up to. In fact, from 2008-2013, the kickers at Nebraska made 84 percent of their field goals as a combined effort.

    As for Bondi, he was not as consistent as those that came before him. As a result, the Nebraska staff brought on Pat Smith, a transfer from Western Illinois. Smith ultimately beat out Bondi for place-kicking responsibilities.

    Bondi has always been known for the power behind his kick. However, his accuracy and consistency have left a lot to be desired with him. There has always been a lot of hope, but in the end, he hasn't been the most impressive player for the Huskers.

     

    Grade: D

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